Fast Forward: What will Warriors, Thunder do for an encore?

Fast Forward: What will Warriors, Thunder do for an encore?
January 17, 2014, 2:45 pm
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This season's first meeting between the Warriors and Thunder ended with this Andre Iguodala fall away jumper at Oracle. (USATSI)

Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage tips off Friday at 6 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)

The first meeting, on Nov. 14, was decided at the buzzer, Andre Iguodala rising to drain a turnaround jumper that gave Warriors the 116-115 win at Oracle Arena.

The second meeting, 15 days later, came with even more drama, decided at the buzzer, in overtime, when Russell Westbrook's 3-pointer gave Oklahoma City a 113-112 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Meeting No. 3 this season comes Friday night, and just because Westbrook, recovering from his third knee surgery, won't be on the court doesn't mean it'll be any easier for the Warriors. The rest of the Thunder roster is rallying around superstar Kevin Durant.

[RELATED: Rockets score 19 points in second half, lose to OKC] 

"Kevin Durant is still as good as it gets,'' Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of the 6-foot-10 forward, who leads the league in scoring. "With his ability to put everybody on his back (and) his ability to score and make everybody a live weapon, we've got to be able to contain and attempt to make him work.

"We've got to be aware of the other guys on the floor, but it's still a very good team that's extremely well coached and is going to be tough for us.''

It's particularly tough considering the venue. OKC's arena has been a house of horrors. The Warriors have not won a game there since Dec. 8, 2008, a season during which Ronny Turiaf and C. J. Watson led the club in games played under coach Don Nelson.

It's a completely different Warriors team now, one fully aware that the march toward procession toward becoming a legitimate NBA championship contender requires conquering few traditional houses of horror.

"The crowd is great, energetic, and they defend,'' Jackson said. "They defend and compete. They have guys that play with an edge. And when you have guys that play with an edge, it gives you a chance no matter where you play.''

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Andre Iguodala vs. Durant: In two games, Durant has shot 34.4 percent against the Dubs. Iguodala gets help, but he deserves most of the credit. He'll need to keep KD – on yet another scoring binge of late – in that range.

David Lee and Serge Ibaka: Both power forwards are playing well enough to get All-Star consideration. Ibaka is a premier shot blocker/defender and a much- improved scorer. Lee will have to keep him off the glass and pull him out of the paint.

[RELATED: Thursday's NBA scoreboard | Friday's NBA Schedule]

Stephen Curry vs. Reggie Jackson: Curry has difficulty with quick, athletic guards such as Jackson, who is playing in place of Westbrook. Arguably the league's best backup PG, Jackson is fully capable of running the team, playing fine defense and also scoring.

SERIES HISTORY: The teams are 1-1 this season. The Warriors have lost nine in a row at OKC and have not won a season series since the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008-09.

LAST 10: Warriors 8-2, Thunder 5-5.

INJURY UPDATE: For the Warriors, centers Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery) and Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and guard Nemanja Nedovic (strained left hamstring) are out.

For the Thunder, Westbrook (knee surgery) is out and not expected to return until next month.

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